'Rescue' project was fencing racket for stolen bikes

Website owner jailed for two years

The owner of a Canadian website which purported to reunite stolen bikes with their owners has been jailed after police discovered it was actually a fencing operation.

Gordon Sinclair Blackwell, who ran BikeRescue.org, claimed he was buying bikes at rock bottom prices and, if they turned out to be stolen, trying to trace their owners.

He boasted of reuniting 256 people with their prized rides. But in reality, the operation was simply a way for him to buy stolen bikes on the cheap and sell them on.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were led to Blackwell's warehouse in Vancouver, BC in January after a spike of cycle thefts in the area. There they arrested him and seized more than 150 bikes.

Blackwell, who has 24 previous convictions for fraud, was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to 36 counts of possession of stolen bicycles. The 41-year-old was handed the sentence by Judge William Rodgers of the North Vancouver provincial court.

So far, police have returned 40 of the 'rescued' bicycles to their owners. Anyone whose bike was stolen in the area between 2008 and autumn 2009 should email nvstolenbikes@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. Inquiries should include make, model, components, accessories, unique markings and, if possible, a photo of the bicycle.

BikeRescue.org is still online, with just a note at the bottom of the homepage to suggest that it isn't operational. The note says: "Those of you who have heard the rumour, unfortunately it is true. I will be shutting down Bike Rescue at the end of this bike season. The reasons are my own, but I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who have had involvement in this program."

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